selling online

Going Public: Tough Love for Unhappy Etsy Sellers

You may have heard the news last week that handmade marketplace giant Etsy intends to go public in 2015 with an IPO (initial public offering) possible as early as this quarter. The move is a big deal, both as an evolution of a business that’s been going strong since 2005, and because few New York-based technology startups have been able to make the leap to the stock market in the last decade and a half.

But on a micro level, I’ve been hearing a lot of grumbling about this news from Etsy sellers akin to the complaints about Etsy’s policy shift to allow sellers to list certain manufactured goods, or further back when Chad Dickerson assumed the role of CEO and Rob Kalin (the company’s visionary founder) stepped down. A lot of the current arguments seem to fall around this general sentiment:

“As a publicly traded company, Etsy will be obligated to cater to their shareholders’ interests. This will continue to destroy things for us, the sellers!”

I get really frustrated when I read things like this, so I’d like to offer up three points of rebuttal and a call to action:


Defining Handmade: Etsy Changes Policy

On October 1, Etsy announced in a Town Hall gathering that they are re-defining their policies over what constitutes “handmade” items for sale in their marketplace. With 30 million sellers registered, this no small change for the maker community. Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson admits that enforcing the term “handmade” in the past was a challenge: “Many of us felt we knew handmade when we saw it, but that was hard to put into enforceable policy.”